(In)visible beauty queens: literary modernism and the politics of women’s visibility in Nezihe Muhiddin’s Güzellik Kraliçesi

Kaitlin Elissa STAUDT

Research output: Contribution to journalArticles

Abstract

This article analyses the ways in which, via the beauty queen trope, Turkish women’s visible beauty became conflated with larger questions of Turkey’s visibility and legibility to the Western gaze and how the beauty pageant worked as an instrument of modernity to instruct Turkish citizens in what ways and in which spaces women should be seen as beautiful. Examining Nezihe Muhiddin’s 1935 novel, Güzellik Kraliçesi [The Beauty Queen], alongside published debates on the Beauty Queen by Turkish intellectuals, I propose that the cultural anxiety which pervaded socio-political narratives of the Turkish beauty queen offers a unique case study for expanded understanding of literary modernism’s relation to visual culture. The representation of the beauty queen in Muhiddin’s fiction departs from realist aesthetics which dominated the Turkish literary landscape in the early Kemalist era, and instead turns to experimental techniques in order to represent the ways in which these narratives worked on Turkish women’s consciousness through destabilizing the relationship between sight and self-knowledge. Copyright © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-303
JournalFeminist Modernist Studies
Volume2
Issue number3
Early online date29 Oct 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Citation

Staudt, K. (2019). (In)visible beauty queens: literary modernism and the politics of women’s visibility in Nezihe Muhiddin’s Güzellik Kraliçesi. Feminist Modernist Studies, 2(3), 287-303. doi: 10.1080/24692921.2019.1671039

Keywords

  • Beauty pageant
  • Nezihe Muhiddin
  • Turkish modernism
  • Visual culture
  • Global modernism

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